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Creating a Successful Business Plan: What It Needs to Contain

  • October 23, 2020

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creating a successful business plan

Startup founders:

It's time to start creating a successful business plan.

If you don’t have a business plan for launching a business, you don’t have a roadmap to drive sales and revenue. That is why it is important to establish a business plan that defines your company’s mission and details and what it will need to operate. The following information shows you how to format your business plan so you can get a better picture about your new venture’s requirements and needs.

The Business Plan Outline

To create a business plan, you need to outline it so it features specific sections of information. Use this guide to help you create a business plan that is easy to follow and facilitate. The first topic you want to include in your plan is the Executive Summary.

The Executive Summary

The Executive Summary summarizes what you want your business to provide. Therefore, this part of the plan condenses the information in the rest of the plan. While it should appear first in a business plan outline, the Executive Summary should be written last when you are creating the plan. Because the Executive Summary provides an overview of the plan, you really cannot write anything until you cover the other sections of the outline.

An Executive Summary, when well-written, compels investors and others to act. It should feature a mission statement and a short description of a company’s services and/or products. You may also want to explain the reasons for your startup and detail your own business experience.

Related: Business Plan Essentials: 3 Tips To Get Started

The Company Description

The second section in your business plan should be the Company Description. This section should enumerate key details about your business, present your company’s goals, and identify who you plan to serve. Use this section to show how your business will stand out in its field and how the product(s)/service(s) you are selling will address the needs of your target market.

A Market Analysis

Your market analysis should specify details about the current marketplace and provide projections about where it is headed. Include how your company will fit in with these projections. Add details about your consumers – their interests, ages, and income.

A Competitive Analysis

You will also need to draft a competitive analysis for your business plan. This analysis should clearly show how your business compares with any indirect or direct competition. You will need to present your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths and demonstrate how your business measures up by comparison.

Note: If you see any problems, such as high upfront costs, you should add this information in the market analysis section of your plan. You need to be objective, especially when you are analyzing your costs and outlay.

A Company Description

Next, you will need to include a company description. This description outlines how your business will be set up. Use this section to introduce your company’s management team and to summarize each manager’s primary responsibilities, skills, and education. You may want to include an infographic that further shows your company’s executive positions and roles.

Use this section, as well, to describe how the company will operate – as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. If you will be operating as a corporation, you will need to include and identify the people serving on the Board of Directors.

Retaining Legal and Accounting Help

To obtain help for establishing an entity, you will need to acquire the services of an experienced business lawyer. He or she can direct you in establishing an entity that will serve your company’s needs with respect to taxation, receiving venture capital funding, or complying locally and federally. You will also need to contact an accountant, so you can draft a plan that is financially sound and reasonable.

A Breakdown of Products/Services

Because your company description serves as an overview of what your business provides, you will need to include additional details about your products and services. This part of the business plan should show exactly what you want to sell, how your product(s)/service(s) will meet a current need, and how long the service(s)/product(s) will last.

In this section, also mention suppliers. Also, show the costs involved in making a product or producing a service, and what you plan to make in revenues. Anything that pertains to copyright protection or securing a patent should be included too.

The Marketing Plan

The Marketing Plan section shows how you plan to advertise and promote your product(s)/service(s). As you detail these steps in your plan, you also need to show how much you plan to spend.

Related: Does your startup need media and advertising coverage? Contact us today.

The Sales Strategy

This part of the business plan reveals how you will be selling your product(s) or service line. Therefore, you need to be specific. Include information, such as number of sales representatives and how you plan to recruit and hire them. You will also need to provide information about sales targeting and the methods you will use to realize your earnings goals.

The Request for Funding

If you want to secure business funds, you need to use the Request for Funding section to elaborate on your funding requirements. State how much money you will need and how you plan to use the capital that is raised. If you will need cash in a couple years to finish a certain activity, you need to disclose this info under this section.

The Financial Projections

The Financial Projections section is the last section you will include in your business plan. Use this section to establish your financial goals, based on your research of the marketplace. You should provide your expected revenue for your first year of business and projected earnings for years two through five. If you want to apply for a small personal loan or business financing, add an appendix to this section. Use the appendix to detail your business costs and projections.

Conclusion: Creating a Successful Business Plan

You cannot begin any business without creating a roadmap to guide you down a successful path. That is why it pays—literally—to create a business plan for your start-up. Not only can you use the plan to help you better understand your business’s needs, you can use the document to get the legal and financial advice you need to succeed. It all starts with creating a successful business plan.

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